POTTSVILLE – A lot can happen in eight minutes and the Marian girls' basketball team found that out the hard way.
Thursday night, one bad quarter proved to be the difference maker, as the Fillies dropped a 44-33 decision to Nativity in a contest that saw the Golden Girls (17-2, 11-0) claim the Schuylkill League Division 3 Championship.
Playing in front of a packed gym, which included the presence of Bishop John Barres (Bishop of Allentown), the Fillies stormed out to a 22-17 halftime lead, which left the defending PIAA Class A runner-up Golden Girls staggering into the locker room.
However, when it came time to finish them off in the third quarter, Marian let down its guard and Nativity retaliated with a knockout punch.
The Golden Girls started the quarter on a 15-0 run, all of which came courtesy of Courtney Field (9 points) and Kiely Chaklos (6 points). The Fillies, plagued by nine turnovers in the frame, were 0-for-5 from the field and scored their only point of the quarter with 32 seconds remaining when Danielle Tristani converted one of two free throw attempts.
"When you score just one point in a quarter, it's very frustrating," stated Marian head coach Paul Brutto. "Rebounding was the difference. We had the lead because we did a good job on the boards in the first half, and when we stopped rebounding, Nativity capitalized."
Marian, playing without leading rebounder Gillian Ferko (who is out for the duration of the season with lingering effects of a concussion), outrebounded a much taller Nativity team 15-14 in the first half. However, after the intermission, the Golden Girls reversed roles and took a 21-12 advantage on the boards.
One of the main culprits behind Nativity's resurgence was junior Courtney Field, who poured in 16 of her game-high 20 points in the second half and pulled down 8 of her 11 rebounds after the break. Equally impressive was point guard Kiely Chaklos, who orchestrated the offense and added 13 points of her own.
"We didn't do a very good job boxing out on Field tonight and she had some putbacks that ended up being daggers for us," added Brutto. "And Chaklos is simply the best point guard in the Schuylkill League. She's so tough to keep out of the lane and she really asserted herself in that third quarter."
For Marian (12-7, 7-4), Kaysi McLaughlin led the way with nine points, all of which came in the first half.
Nativity shot 17-for-47 from the floor, while the Fillies made 12 of their 37 shots. The Golden Girls outrebounded Marian 35-27 and won the turnover battle 21-17.
"I think we played hard, but Nativity's just a little bit better than us right now," concluded Brutto. "If we get a chance to play them again, hopefully we'll figure out a way to close that gap, but our kids gave a tremendous effort tonight and that's all you can really ask for."
Bellezza 2-0-2-4, McLaughlin 4-0-0-9, Kennedy 1-0-0-2, Gutsie 0-0-2-0, Markiewicz 0-1-2-1, Linkchorst 1-0-0-2, Shober 3-2-6-8, Tristani 1-5-6-7. TOTALS: 12-8-18-33.
Farr 1-1-4-3, Field 7-6-9-20, Chaklos 6-1-4-13, Eich 0-2-2-2, Holohan 0-0-2-0, Birosik 1-0-5-2, Nabholz 2-0-0-4. TOTALS: 17-10-26-44.
Marian 11 11 1 10 - 33
Nativity 10 7 15 12 - 44
Three-Pointers: M - McLaughlin 1; N - None.